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Game thread: Toronto FC 4-0 NYCFC (FT)

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Can you tell how excited JHams is?

MLS: New England Revolution at Toronto FC Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

FT — That’s all, folks. My goodness, what a performance that was. TFC are here to make noise this season.

88’ — Jozy Altidore gets subbed off as Terrence Boyd comes in to see things out.

83’ Toronto FC 4-0 NYCFC — Wow. A great run by Auro in the buildup, and a superb finish by Jay Chapman, just five minutes into his night. This couldn’t have gone better for TFC.

78’ Toronto FC 3-0 NYCFC — Pozuelo is unbelievable. He bursts into the box, allows the defenders to turn their attention to attackers trying to get in behind, and he chips it perfectly over Sean Johnson. Not the best goalkeeping, but still an incredible goal. Kudos to Osorio for his run in the buildup, too.

Pozuelo is subbed off (for Jay Chapman) to thunderous applause immediately after.

60’ Toronto FC 2-0 NYCFC — Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Alejandro Pozuelo is already a Toronto FC legend. VAR awards TFC a penalty as Jozy gets his shirt tugged in the box, and Pozuelo steps up with all the swagger in the world and flicks a tiny little panenka into the middle of the net. Hilarious.

50’ — TFC get a touch of luck there as a weird curling shot hits the back post, and Bono is in good position to make a kick save off the rebound. The Reds emerge unscathed from a nervy moment.

46’ — Back out. No changes.

HT — Up one at half. Pozuelo is good at soccer. How are you feeling?

41’ — Pozuelo is here to freakin’ PLAY. Cuts into the box and fires one from 18 yards out, forcing Johnson to make a very good save.

30’ Toronto FC 1-0 NYCFC — THAT ONE COUNTS! My goodness, that’s an introduction. Osorio taps it on to Pozuelo, who does some extraordinary work sucking in defenders in the box before laying it off to a sneakily-placed Altidore, who does NOT miss from there.

25’ — Ahhh. Pozuelo puts it into the net with a lovely finish but unfortunately he, too, was offside.

9’ Justin Morrow! Ugh. Morrow’s early goal is called back after Jozy Altidore is spotted offside by VAR.

7’ — Pozuelo creates his first chance as a Red, sending Jozy Altidore into the box. His shot is saved, and the cut back off the rebound finds Justin Morrow, whose shot sails over.

1’ — We’re off! NYCFC kick off, and TFC attack toward the north to start.

Lineups

Toronto FC:

New York City FC:

Preview

POZZO: Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It’s abominable! When! When!
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Today, my friends. Today, the wait is over for Toronto FC’s own Pozo, and for the rest of us.

Alejandro Pozuelo is expected to debut this evening at BMO Field against New York City FC as the Reds’ newest Designated Player, after an achingly long transfer saga and an equally excruciating two-week gap between matches for TFC.

Toronto, 2-0 on the season so far after wins against the Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution, are hoping to start an MLS campaign with three consecutive wins for the first time in club history. They’ll have a little more of a mountain to climb tonight, though, in a much tougher adversary than either of the two previous.

Last year, TFC went o-fer against NYCFC (against New York teams in general, actually). They lost 2-1 in June at Yankee Stadium, and 3-2 at home two months later. This season so far, the Pigeons have been... well, consistent, at least. They have three draws from three matches: 2-2 with Orlando City, 0-0 with D.C. United, and 2-2 again with LAFC two weeks ago.

They have some very high-quality players, certainly more firepower than TFC have had to reckon with yet this year. Maxi Moralez is an extremely dangerous player, with nine goals and 11 assists in 2018. Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored twice against the Reds last year (12 total on the season), and he’s only just been given a clean bill of health.

Alexander Ring, one of the league’s better defensive midfielders, an work the ball through midfield exceptionally well, and he’s got two goals in 2019 already (sound like anyone we know?). Alexandru Mitrita, one of two new DPs at NYCFC this season (the other, Héber, won’t play tonight due to a visa issue), is a scary attacking midfielder with great touch.

The obvious void in the lineup, though, is David Villa. He moved on to Japanese side Vissel Kobe in the off-season, and he’s a player that’s pretty much impossible to replace in MLS (the more I think about it, the more similarities I’m seeing between NYC and TFC...). They’ve been able to score at a decent click this year, although a winless side is certainly one that’ll ask questions of itself.

Still, TFC’s backline will be tested tonight. We’ll see if Greg Vanney goes with the three-man centre-back setup (certainly the safer option), or if he drops one of them to make room in the XI for Pozuelo.

Looks like it’ll be around 6 degrees Celsius at kickoff — positively balmy. Wind shouldn’t be too bad either. All in all, I think we could be in for a pretty beautiful night of football.

Team news: Injuries & suspensions

EVERYBODY IS HEALTHY! According to MLSsoccer.com, at least. Wheeeeeee! (*furiously knocks on wood*)

Pregame reading

How to watch

Match date/time: Friday, Mar. 29, 8 p.m. ET
TV channel: TSN 4 & 5 (Canada), YES Network (New York)
Radio: TSN 1050 (Toronto)
Live stream: TSN GO, ESPN+